Culture, Change and Faith: Achtung Baby & Social Business Transformation

File under: slightly off topic but personally meaningful.

Disclosure: I’m not a massive U2 fan. With that said, Achtung Baby is one of my all time favorite albums. It is a transformative recording from a band that had, to date, been cast as a folksy and righteous rock and roll band from Ireland. Achtung Baby is a product of the band intentionally losing its established identity, giving themselves time and room to explore (albeit contentiously), and birthing an almost unclassifiable masterpiece and subsequent co-opting of mass, and particularly, electronic media as part of the album experience.


In 2011, From the Sky Down was released to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the album. The film takes the band members back to Berlin to talk about the creative process of recording Achtung Baby, and in the act of creation, remaking the band.

One of the most insightful moments in the film is at the end, when Bono sums up the intention behind the Berlin sessions and the album. It is at once terrifying and inspirational:

“You have to reject one expression of the band, first, before you get to the next expression,” says Bono, “and in between you have nothing, you have to risk it all

I LOVE this. Applied personally, it is a call to action to grow, explore and transform. Faith in your instincts, talents and abilities bridge the gap between what you are and what you can become, and help hedge the risk.

It occurs to me that most organizations are in a similar state today – business models, culture, internal structure – basically most everything needs some level of transformation to thrive in the new increasingly connected and empowered market that is emerging globally.

How many will have the will to reject the “current expression” of the org?
How many will invest in the work needed for exploration and transformation?
Most importantly – how many will find the will and purpose to risk it all?

We will find out in the very near future.

ps: I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Berlin in 2011. I have to admit that I was not looking forward to the trip, but I wound up falling in love with the city and its energy- including the vibrant startup scene. I posted some of my pics from the trip here:
shots from Berlin

Work 2.0: Why I (mostly) <3 working from home

Approximately one year ago, I left a large corporate environment (Autodesk) to work for a small company (Forum One), using my home office (the Garoffice) as my base of operations.

The following post by Alex Iskold, The “Work From Home” Generation, does a really great job of summarizing the pros and cons of the 20 foot commute.

From the post, the main points are:


  • No Commute
  • Saving Money
  • Flexibility
  • Increased Productivity


  • Brainstorming is difficult
  • You never leave work
  • Entropy is after you

Working from home has given me back at least 15 hours a week that I was burning commuting in to San Francisco from our home in Fairfax. That time translates into quality time with the family, and in particular, getting to spend at least a couple of hours every day with my 2 year old Daughter. I also feel much more productive than I did in an office environment, mostly because my work environment is genreally free from distraction, barring the occaisional family emergency.

For me, the main downside to working from home is the creeping sense of isolation. I plan several local and national community and social media conferences throughout the year, but in the weeks between the conferences, I can go for a week without meeting someone face to face in a work-related setting. I didn’t realize this would bug me, but it does. I guess I’m more social than I thought 🙂 The other thing I miss about the office environment is the spontaneous collaboration… somebody popping over the cube wall with a wireframe, or pulling me over to a whiteboard for a brainstorming session.

I’m activley looking for co-working space in Marin to use a couple of days a week. I still want to spend the majority of my work week at home, but after a year, I definitly feel the need to get out of the house part of the week.

I’m interested in hearing about other’s work from home experiences. Are the challenges Alex outlines above consistent with your experience? What did you do to alleviate the issues?

Update: Apparently there are a lot of “homeworkers”. I’m finging or being pointed to all kinds of great content. In particular:
Top 30 Tips for Staying Productive and Sane While Working From Home – Zen Habits